I was a delightfully happy believer/non-believer/existentialist for 30 years of my life. Then I plummeted into a depression that has lasted for the past 17 years. I have been treated by psychiatrists and therapists with varying degrees of success. At times, I’ve been suicidal and hospitalized. At other times like now, I’m high functioning, lively, appearing joyful, but still profoundly unhappy with my life. During all of this, nobody would know I was depressed unless I told them.
When the depression began, I immediately abandoned all connection and belief in Christianity. It made my skin crawl. But over the past 17 years, I have practiced various forms of spirituality. First, I gave up my self-reliance and submitted to the higher power of a 12 step eating disorder program. Then the non-dualism of advaita vedanta, the search for enlightenment, “everything I am seeking is within me as who I am.” Next, it was reincarnation and the belief that my misery is the result of burning off bad karma. Throughout all of it, there has been the Universe that makes things happen, the belief that my thoughts create my reality, and the torment of being told that my life is exactly as it is supposed to be at this moment. None of it has returned joy to my life.
I’ve dabbled with atheism through the years, and this time I’m finding more comfort in it. I actually don’t care about “Truth” anymore. I don’t care about what’s real and what’s not. I only want to be happy. Here. Now. For the rest of this life. I’ve long said that I hope the atheists are right and that this life is all we have. That means no more suffering after death and no coming back to do this all over again for eternity.
I’ve read some responses about depression and suicide, and I’ve been trying to formulate my question. I’m trying right now to divest myself of thoughts about feeling “screwed” by life. I feel like, if there’s a master plan or if the Universe is perfect, then I’ve lost a really big game of musical chairs. I’m not one to feel sorry for myself, but decades of health problems and depression have taken its toll on me. The spiritual solace I’ve sought has not brought me consistent relief and has often left me feeling more hopeless.
I want to find solace in atheism. I want to find comfort, power and control in atheism. I want to lose my self-pity, not because a higher power lifts it from me, but because I no longer pity myself. I want to find acceptance in atheism, but not the type of acceptance that means suffering in silence. I want my anger at God/Universe to disappear because I realize that there’s nobody and nothing to be mad at.
I want to find freedom in atheism. Freedom from suffering, freedom from powerlessness, freedom from anything controlling me other than the laws of physics and nature.
I want my self-reliance back. My strength. My perseverance. My ability to achieve anything I set my mind to. I want to stop waiting for good things to come my way. I want to stop feeling that something else is deciding what’s best for me, deciding when I’m ready for the things I want in life.
I don’t have a question, but I am asking for help. Help me get what I want through atheism. Even as I write this, I have to resist thinking that “I’m putting a prayer out to the Universe” and “formulating my intention will make things happen.” No! I’m asking actual people for actual help, advice, encouragement, guidance.
And in advance, I thank you.
Posted: June 24th 2012